How to Stay Awake in Class or While Doing Homework

How to Stay Awake in Class or While Doing Homework


If you’re nodding off in class, it’s not your professor’s fault. It’s hard to stay awake when you’re sleepy, and there are many reasons why you might be experiencing sleepiness during your lecture or seminar. If you find yourself in this predicament frequently, though, you may want to consider taking some steps to address the problem. There are plenty of ways to stay awake in class — here are eight of them that should help keep you focused on the content of your classes and ready to take good notes as well!

sleeping student

1) Use a notebook

Writing down what you hear in class is a great way to stay awake and it can help improve your memory. Don’t just write down what you think is important: Write down everything. Many students have said they never thought about writing things down but when they did, it helped them stay awake in class and remember what was said. If there is a word you don’t understand or something not quite clear to you, highlight it so that you can look it up later. Using a notebook can also help keep your attention focused on class by reducing distractions from your phone or other classmates who might be talking around you.

2) Eat Something

At least 30 minutes before class, eat a small snack of energy-boosting foods to keep you awake. These include bananas, whole-grain crackers, peanut butter and apple slices. If you’re feeling lightheaded or drowsy in class, eating a small snack could help boost your energy without getting you distracted from your professor’s lecture. However, avoid foods high in fat and sugar as they can make it harder to stay awake for long periods of time.

3) Drink Tea

If you don’t want to hit up caffeine (hey, we get it), tea can help you stay awake in class. A study done by researchers at Stanford University showed that drinking tea helped improve mental focus and attention—so grab a cup of tea and stay awake in class. Also check out our list of teas for their unique health benefits.
According to NPR, our brains release two hormones when we’re falling asleep: melatonin and adenosine. Melatonin makes us feel sleepy while adenosine puts us into sleep mode once melatonin levels rise above normal amounts. The way tea works is simple: Caffeine blocks adenosine from binding with receptors in your brain; instead, adenosine binds with receptors on your heart and blood vessels, keeping them open so more oxygen flows through your body. Tea contains both L-theanine and caffeine but has about half as much caffeine as coffee does. So if you’ve been trying to cut back on coffee or are just looking for something new, give tea a try!

4) Sleep well the night before

This one is pretty obvious! Getting the right amount of sleep the night before class is vital to staying awake. If you’re sleep-deprived, your attention span will suffer as well as your ability to focus on and retain information. Instead of going to bed at 3 a.m., spend time winding down by reading, writing or doing other relaxing activities (but stay away from social media!) that allow you to wind down before bedtime.

5) Listen to classical music

Have you ever noticed how even listening to music sometimes can put you to sleep? That’s because music can help us relax and shut down, which is perfect if we’re not in a place where sleeping is acceptable (like class or work). But if you need to stay awake, classical music—or any other genre that isn’t likely to make you zone out—can help. Research has shown classical music boosts brain activity as much as 10 percent. Plus, it gives you something to focus on besides your own drowsiness. This is one we like to use when studying in the background quietly. If you’re in class obviously listen to you professor/teacher! A little music on the way to class can help energize you so you’re more focused once you get there.

6) Exercise early

A morning workout won’t just help you avoid a sleep deficit from the night before. The burst of exercise-induced endorphins that comes with early-morning exercise can leave you feeling more relaxed, focused, and generally less stressed throughout the day. Studies have shown that schoolchildren who participated in aerobic activity at least three times per week experienced noticeable improvements in their grades compared to their peers who didn’t get any physical activity. Getting a morning workout in is a great way to boost your focus in class—not to mention your enjoyment of the material itself!

7) Get a good seat

The first step to staying awake in class is choosing a good seat. If your seating options are limited, consider sitting toward the front of your class and/or by a window (the breeze will help keep you alert). There are some classes that require students to sit at their desks for hours on end; these classes often involve tedious note-taking or listening exercises. In these cases, it’s important to choose a desk that has good posture support and doesn’t cause back pain over time. Investing in a cushioned chair pad can also help make longer classes more comfortable. I always preferred to sit in the front where I felt I had to be more focused and involved simply because the professor was right there and could see if I was getting sleepy or unfocused.

8) Study in intervals

This can apply to class or homework. Interval study allows you to consolidate time spent studying into shorter periods of more intense focus, with regular breaks in between. This not only makes for a better learning experience but can also help you stay awake and attentive in class. Don’t try to cram all your studying into one marathon session—the longer you study at once, the more likely you are to get distracted or lose focus. The ideal time block is 30 minutes: 20 minutes on and 10 minutes off for every 50-minute class. Take a five-minute break before moving on to a new subject matter so that you can reorient yourself to what’s coming next.

I hope these tips help. A good mattress can also help with your overall sleep. See some recommendations below.

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